CYF file contents shock

A South Canterbury woman is shocked at what she has discovered in her Child, Youth and Family (CYF) file.

It contains about 80 pages on her, but of the almost 1000 pages there are more on her former husband's new partner, and the criminal records of another person with a similar name to her new partner.

Jane (not her real name) is now worried about what details of hers might be shared in other files.

On Monday, Jane arranged to retrieve her file from the Timaru branch of Child, Youth and Family because of domestic issues occurring after a divorce.

At the office, she handed over her photo ID and was given her file.

"When I got the file, I thought 'that can't be mine' ... it was a 1000-page document, what a waste of trees."

Upon returning home, she opened the file and realised only a small portion of it was about her.

Much of it was about her husband's new partner, detailing that person's dealings with CYF over three generations. It included a list of that family's contact details and medical records.

Jane suspected the pages may have been included due to the fact she and the other woman have the same Christian name.

"How can it [the information] be integrated with someone else's file and make us the same person?"

The name and birthdate of her new partner were incorrect.

The file indicated he had a significant criminal record - he does not, but the person named does.

She also claimed statements on the file provided by her former husband were incorrect.

Her main concern was that if CYF could include someone else's details in her file, her own information may be on other people's files.

She also wondered how the people whose information she was given would feel.

The Privacy Commissioner's office said it could not comment on specific cases but its general guidance is to alert the agency a breach has occurred and return the information.

It said it was up to the agency to fix the issue, however, depending on the outcome of any complaint made to the commission, it would work to resolve the issue.

The Timaru Herald put questions to Child, Youth and Family, but at the time of deadline last night a response had not been received.

The Ministry of Social Development has since contacted the Herald to point out the error in compiling the file was made by the ministry's privacy and official information team, not CYFs.

The Timaru Herald